BYU Basketball rounds out roster with UVU grad transfer

BYU Basketball Head Coach Mark Pope announced on June 12 that former UVU guard Brandon Averette will join the Cougars as a graduate transfer for the upcoming 2020-21 season, helping to fill out a roster that lost seven seniors.

Pope found immediate success in his first year at BYU after moving from UVU himself, thanks to the veteran leadership and experience of starters like TJ Haws, Jake Toolson and Yoeli Childs. The team climbed the national rankings all year, eventually cracking the top 15, and Pope hopes to continue the trend by adding older players instead of just relying on high school recruits.

This will be Averette’s third stop in his college basketball career. He played his first two years at Oklahoma State, after which Pope recruited him to come to Utah and attend UVU. He redshirted the 2018-19 season, Pope’s last with the Wolverines, due to NCAA transfer rules, and then earned a spot on the All-WAC Newcomer Team last year as a junior.

“Brandon Averette is one of the most explosive, cat-quick, clever playmakers in college basketball,” Pope said in a statement. “We feel so blessed to have him join our locker room. He is universally beloved by his teammates for his competitive spirit and playmaking ability. It’s going to take about two seconds for Cougar fans to fall in love with his quiet charisma and winning charm.”

The team’s announcement on Twitter welcomed Averette to, “The Best Locker Room in America,” showing the priority that Pope’s program puts on camaraderie and chemistry.

With Averette’s playmaking abilities and the departure of point guard TJ Haws, he will likely take over the primary ball-handler duties, allowing fellow senior Alex Barcello to remain in the shooting guard, off-ball position he flourished in last year as a starter.

The 5-foot-11 Averette lacks some of the size that Haws had at 6-foot-4, but with six players over 6-foot-6, BYU can make up for the lack of height in the backcourt with a wealth of size at the three forward spots.

Averette joins Purdue transfer Matt Haarms as the two marquee additions to the BYU Basketball roster this offseason, but there are a few other names mentioned in a BYU press release that show the group is nearing its finished form.

Freshman Hunter Erickson, a returned missionary from Timpview High School, and junior college transfers Gideon George (New Mexico Junior College) and Spencer Johnson (Salt Lake Community College) were also named as newcomers to the upcoming season’s roster.

Assistant Coach Chris Burgess appeared on BYU Sports Nation on Thursday, June 11, confirming the direction the coaching staff is going in with prioritizing more experienced graduate transfers when re-tooling the roster.

“Transfers and staying older makes you really good,” Burgess said. “You’re getting a leader, an older guy. We love older players and guys that have been through it. They know what’s important and they know what matters. It’s sacrificing yourself, having no agenda and winning.”

Burgess, who was part of Pope’s coaching staff at UVU that recruited Averette, told Cougar fans what they can expect from the recent addition.

“Let’s go! Fired up to coach BA again!” Burgess said in a Tweet. “Cougar Nation is gonna love how hard he competes on both ends of the floor.”

Toolson, who also transferred from UVU to BYU just one year ago, said he’s glad BYU didn’t end up getting other transfer targets such as Mac McClung and Daivien Williamson earlier in the offseason. He had the chance to play with Averette at UVU two years ago and says he was the best player on the team.

“Consider it a blessing we missed out on every other guy in the portal,” Toolson said in a Tweet. “BA was the best player on our UVU team two years ago during his redshirt, and it wasn’t even close. So excited to watch him ball out.”

Averette followed up the announcement Tweet with a highlight reel, showing off his impressive athleticism for a smaller point guard.

“I would like to thank God for putting the talents and the people in my life to help me grow and succeed,” Averette said in a Tweet announcing his transfer. “Thank you to my family, all my coaches and teammates that have helped me to this point.”

Between Averette and explosive forwards like Haarms and Gavin Baxter, BYU Basketball will have no shortage of exciting plays in the Marriott Center this season.

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